It is impossible to deny. After The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Tres Fast Tres Furious, Fast & Furious is unquestionably the fourth film in this series of auto-racing movies of unambitious quality.
Although, maybe not.
One could argue that Fast & Furious only got released fourth — that it’s really the third film chronologically. To this point I would counter with the sensible words of MC Frontalot: “Do shut ups, Poindexter.”
For an ability to do math and/or keep track of temporal reality is wholly unnecessary when watching Fast & Furious. Not only are these talents superfluous, but they may actually hinder you in your attempts to digest this overly rich pate of ultra-stupid man gristle.
Here’s what you need to know about Fast & Furious Four Real:
- There are these magical creatures known as cars. Cars are capable of doing pretty much anything as long as they have been tamed into submission by Vin Diesel; massaged with a balm of nitrous oxide; and have something lascivious painted on their quarter panel.
- Some human beings work in law enforcement. To do so is to enter a philosophical state akin to transcendentalism. Employment with the coppers may be severed completely by invoking intangible elements — such as the gentle, aromatic waft of roasted almonds — and regained through equally mysterious means, say the triple vocalization of the word ‘unguent’ in a Dutch accent.
- If you are in law enforcement, you are good and if you are not in law enforcement, you are good but not recognized as such by those assholes in law enforcement who aren’t that good when you think about it. Your association or lack of association with a federal agency will have no bearing on your behavior whatsoever.
- When Vin Diesel’s mouth makes weird shapes that is a prime indication that he is attempting to act. Do not, under any circumstances, stick your limbs out of the vehicle while this is underway.
- There is a complex series of calculations which will determine how many times a rolling vehicle will flip in its flaming descent down an incline and how high it will bounce following each impact with the macadam. This formula is solved most quickly and easily by allowing Vin Diesel to depress a gas pedal meaningfully whilst making weird shapes with his mouth.
After The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift — which was just about as terrible as a film can be — Fast & Furious Four Real looks deep within itself to find its essence. It rips away its snap-on pants so it can display its bespangled undergarments and rotate provocatively. And it does this very seriously.
As the poster’s tagline says:
New Model. Original Parts.
They aren’t kidding. The film isn’t a joke. It understands that the series has let you down of late and it’s going to make it up to you by repeating everything you’ve seen in films 1, 2, and 3, but like, you guys, this time for real.
Take the opening action set piece. In the original The Fast and the Furious, we saw Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) hijacking trucks by climbing up on the hoods of speeding muscle cars and harnessing the power of exceptionally poor dialogue. They do much the same in Fast & Furious, only this time with a couple of Latino gentlemen, Han (Sung Kang) from Tres Fast, and a woman we never meet.
Their daring plan involves filching four tankers full of gasoline from a moving land train while it travels downhill towards a cliff. To accomplish this, they’ll use liquid nitrogen, a hammer, and acting. This gasoline is valuable because it can be used to race cars illegally; ergo, it is part of the circle of life.
Justin Lin, who directed Tokyo Drift, retains control in this fourth installment. Again he favors saturated colors, crisp lighting, and un-ironic intensity. Stealing gasoline from a moving semi driven by some poor mope who’d likely pull over if offered a nice meal is important stuff. It’s worth risking everyone’s life for, but not worth enough to wait until the truck stops and the driver gets a sandwich and probably leaves the cab unlocked.
Do shut ups, Poindexter.
As far as F&F action sequences go, this one’s hot. Moronic, but exciting. By the time Letty drops her hammer, forcing Toretto to spin out on a two-lane rustic, cliffside highway so he can slam and shatter the semi’s hitch with his bumper without losing speed and continuing — now in reverse — to keep pace with the truck barreling along at full throttle, you most definitely have either suspended your disbelief or had it expelled and sent to an unpleasant military school.
Having lost all his gasoline and control, the semi driver jumps out of his cab, allowing the truck to topple and roll towards Toretto and Letty as it bursts into flame. Luckily, Toretto has a magic car, an advanced grasp of physics, and the timing of an atomic clock.
You will be shocked to learn that they do not perish in this, the opening action sequence.
Where The Fast and the Furious made the mistake of making its characters — Mia (Jordana Brewster), for example — look human and natural, Fast & Furious corrects that oversight. There is, seriously, a special spotlight just for the sleeping Michelle Rodrigeuz’ mouth. Toretto was an excellent driver when we first met him. Now he can pick a lock using his muffler while driving across a lightning bolt, steering with his eyelashes.
And then there is bad news. Michelle Rodriguez’s character Letty gets herself killed in order to provide Fast & Furious with a plot. By any estimation, this is an exceptionally poor trade. Rodrigeuz added a soupcon of class to the franchise, but now that is gone. Instead, we get Israeli actress Gal Gadot who, yes, is lovely but who, no, doesn’t quite match Rodrigeuz’ skill in keeping the story from testosterone overload.
Toretto returns to Los Angeles where he doesn’t quite team up with O’Conner (Paul Walker), who is killing time working for the F.B.I. Together, sort of, they attempt to track down the drug dealer who had Letty killed in a scenario identical to that of 2 Fast 2 Furious, only this time, like, for real you guys. They even have the same illegal street race to gain spots on the dastardly dealer’s crew.
No one jumps their car onto a boat, though, which is a pity. Instead, they use their magic GPS devices to get across Los Angeles in under half an hour.
In Fast & Furious, the drug dealer (John Ortiz) is smuggling high quantities of heroin using speed-demon mules who drive as fast as possible across the border, through a batcave of mining tunnels, in the 45 seconds between when someone says the border patrol isn’t looking and when they decide they are once again looking. It is very important to drive as fast as possible through the tunnels because there will never be another opportunity to get across until the next opportunity and, presumably, all the opportunities after that. Then, all the drivers get murdered because people willing and able to drive 120 mph through unpaved mining tunnels across the border carrying $60 million in heroin are easy to come by, but trust, man, whew. Don’t even get me started.
Anyway. Stuff happens. Toretto punches O’Conner a lot, for which everyone is grateful. Michelle Rodrigeuz remains dead, which sucks as she could actually make a meaningful facial expression and stare down Vin Diesel. Justin Lin continues on in his Michael Bay-lite style that’s rich in crane moves and dramatic sunsets and stuff like that.
Then, you won’t believe how it ends, you guys. Everyone dies when the car they’re in loses control going too fast and they slam into a light pole.
That’s how Paul Walker’s life ended last year, not Fast & Furious. I get confused sometimes. These films are so life-like.
The film ends with Toretto doing the right thing but still being sent to prison by one of those asshole law enforcement types. Guess they’ll have to break him out using the same technique they developed to steal stereos in Bakersfield.
Stereos; Vin Diesel, what’s the difference?
Fast & Furious is far from the worst film in this series. It moves along at a nice clip. It looks like a Transformers film without any actual Transformers in it or, what would be worse, Shia LaBeouf. Everything is consistently stupid which is lulling.
I guess I’ll watch the next one. C’mon over Poindexters, if you can do shut ups for long enoughs.
The mountain, if I’m remembering correctly, has HIDDEN DOORS that close behind, so once they make it in, nobody’s chasing them. They also have hidden doors that open on the other side, where one might emerge whenever it’s safe. The super-urgent countdown timer through the mountain bears no relationship to the action whatsoever.
I’ll be sad if I’m remembering that wrong, because as part of a very solidly built castle of senselessness, that sequence struck me as the truly heaven-defying gilded minaret.
Five and Six are both big fun, though Five wastes its central 40 minutes on an Oceans-X-style ur-complex heist scheme that is elaborately prepared for and then abandoned without comment (in favor of blowing up a wall, chaining two cars to the Big Score, and just driving off into a parallel universe with it).
Because they’ve run out of ways to return Blondie to his law enforcement hobby, they hired The Rock (as an international fed(?)) to flex and glisten moistly for the rest of the series. He brings a little bit of intentional comedic flare to the proceedings. You will be glad of him.
You are correct, Poindexter. They somehow installed automatic garage doors on the super secret mine shaft between Mexico and the United States. It is a fiendishly clever plan except for the bit where that section of the border is almost constantly monitored by dudes with helicopters. Luckily, the bad guys know when the border patrol’s CCTV monitors will go out for precisely 45 seconds; coincidentally the same amount of time it would take someone to drive across the desert, through the mine, and out into the arroyo as long as nothing whatsoever goes wrong.
I refuse on principal to look forward to seeing the Rock in something, but yeah, that sounds like an improvement.